PLLC vs PC: the difference

PLLC vs PC? In the realm of specialized expertise, the formation of business entities holds paramount significance for professionals licensed to practice their craft effectively. While many professionals explore the advantages of forming a Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC) or a Professional Corporation (PC), some may also weigh the benefits of establishing a sole proprietorship.

In this article, we will delve into the key differences between a professional LLC and a PC, offering insights into the suitability of each structure for certain licensed professionals.

pllc vs pc
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What is a professional corporation (PC)?

A professional corporation or PC is a specific type of legal entity formed by licensed professional to conduct their business. One distinguishing feature of professional corporations is that they are designed to provide a level of liability protection for the individual professionals within the organization.

This means that the personal assets of the licensed professionals are generally shielded from the company’s liabilities and debts.

From a tax perspective, PCs have the flexibility to choose the type of taxation they prefer. They can opt for the traditional corporate tax structure, which personally taxes the corporation’s profits at the corporate level before distributing them to shareholders.

Or they can elect to be taxed as an S corporation, which allows pass-through taxation, meaning the company’s profits are passed through to the individual shareholders and taxed on their personal income taxes returns. Professional corporations must adhere to specific regulations and licensing requirements established by the relevant professional licensing board or authority in their respective state or jurisdiction.

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How is a professional limited liability company (PLLC) different?

Professional Limited Liability Companies (PLLCs) offer licensed professionals a distinct alternative to the traditional Professional Corporation. These professional entities combine the liability protection of a traditional LLC with a structure tailored for professionals.

One of the primary differences between PLLCs and PCs lies in personal liability.

In a PLLC, similar to an LLC, the personal assets of the individual professionals within the company are typically shielded from the business’s liabilities and debts.

To form a PLLC, licensed professionals must adhere to specific state regulations and licensing requirements, which vary by jurisdiction. These regulations are established to ensure that PLLCs operate in compliance with industry standards and maintain the professional qualifications and standards of professional practice.

One significant advantage of Professional Limited Liability Companies is the avoidance of double taxation. This means that the profits “pass through” the business entity and are only taxed at the individual level, on the income tax returns of the professionals. This can result in tax savings for PLLC members.

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Differences between PC and PLLC

When contemplating the differences between business structures, such as PC and PLLC, it’s essential to understand that professionals have the option to form an LLC in many jurisdictions, but the choice between these structures involves distinct considerations. Both PC and PLLC structures allow professionals to form a business entity specifically tailored to their professional practice.

PC vs. PLLC: PC profits may be subject to double taxation, where the corporation is taxed at the corporate level, and shareholders are taxed on dividends or distributions. In contrast, PLLCs often offer pass-through taxation, meaning that business profits pass through the entity and are only taxed at the individual level, potentially providing tax benefits for members.

Both PC and PLLC structures provide a level of personal protection for the professionals within the legal entity.

This protection helps shield wealth from the business’s liabilities and debts, reducing the risk to individual professionals.

While both PC and PLLC structures serve the purpose of professionals licensed to practice certain services, the specific choice between them often comes down to the complexity of management and compliance requirements.

Form a PC: establishing a PC typically involves more formalities, such as issuing stock, holding regular shareholder meetings, and maintaining corporate governance structures, which can be more complex and time-consuming.

Form a professional LLC: forming a Professional Limited Liability Company generally has fewer formalities and administrative requirements, making it a more flexible and straightforward option for professionals.

Regulations and licensing requirements for PC and PLLC formations can vary significantly from one state to another.

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What is the difference between a PC and a PLLC in NY?

In New York, the primary difference between a PC and a PLLC is in the business structure. A board of directors typically manages a PC and may be subject to more formalities, while a PLLC often has a simpler structure. Both structures offer personal protection for professionals practicing in professional services.

What is the difference between a PC and a PLLC in NC?

In North Carolina, the difference between a PC and a PLLC is similar to that in NY. A PC is usually structured and may have more formal requirements, whereas a PLLC can be simpler to set up, governed by an operating agreement, and offers personal protection for licensed professionals in professional services.

What is the difference between a PC and a PLLC in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts, like NY and NC, sees the primary difference between a PC and a PLLC in the structure. A PC may require adherence to more formalities, while a PLLC can be structured more flexibly with an operating agreement. Both structures provide personal protection for professionals engaged in professional service.

What is the difference between a PC and an LLC?

The key difference between a PC and a regular LLC lies in the nature of the professionals involved. PC is specifically for licensed professionals practicing professional services, while a regular LLC is a general entity that can be formed by any business owners.

Additionally, PC may have specific regulations, while an LLC typically has a more flexible management structure. Both provide limited protection, but the choice depends on the nature of the business and the qualifications of the owners. Federal tax treatment can vary based on the chosen structure and tax elections.


In conclusion, the choice of business structure is a pivotal decision for professionals looking to establish their practice. The traditional self-employment route or a sole proprietorship may not provide the desired protection, which is why seeking legal advice is essential. Professionals may explore alternative options to safeguard their personal wealth and optimize their business endeavors.

When deciding between PLLC vs. PC, only professionals should weigh the complexities of management and compliance requirements. Certified professionals must carefully assess their needs, consider the pay taxes implications, and ensure they are in compliance with state-specific requirements.

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